Teenage star Jaedyn Shaw will be permitted to enter the NWSL through a discovery process, which will take place July 7, the NWSL announced Thursday.
The 17-year-old would have been eligible for the 2023 entry draft but the NWSL amended its entry process for Shaw, according to commissioner Jessica Berman.
“This is a special circumstance that I believe requires us to show flexibility in how we execute our policies, and as a practical matter, is part of our ongoing review of our age restriction policy,” Berman said in a statement. “In the interim, we have determined that our best course of action is to allow Jaedyn Shaw to join the NWSL as part of this discovery process.”
The discovery process allows teams to sign a player whose rights are not controlled through other means.
The move marks a departure from the league’s approach with Olivia Moultrie last year. Then 15 years old, Moultrie was prohibited from playing in the league due to the league’s age policy, which prevented players under 18 from signing with teams.
Moultrie sued the NWSL over the policy last May. She was granted a preliminary injunction in June and signed a professional contract with the Portland Thorns.
The NWSL’s age restriction policy remains in place as the league reviews its policy in the wake of Moultrie’s signing, but it considers requests for exceptions on a case-by-case basis.
Shaw will turn 18 in November and, according to the league, “has already taken the necessary steps to turn professional and forgo her NCAA eligibility.”
Teams looking to participate in Shaw’s discovery process must provide a plan to the NWSL for how they would comply with the rules protecting minors until Shaw turns 18.
Shaw currently plays for Texas’ Solar SC and was rated as the top prospect for the high school class of 2023 by Top Drawer Soccer. A member of the U17 and U20 U.S. women’s national team squads as a midfielder, Shaw participated in the Washington Spirit’s preseason and was listed on the team’s roster.